ZKB Bankers Deny Claims of Helping U.S. Clients Dodge Taxes

Updated on
  • Reist, Fellman plead not guilty in Manhattan federal court
  • Bankers accused of helping Americans hide $420 million

Two Swiss bankers charged with participating in a scheme to help U.S. clients hide more than $420 million from tax authorities pleaded not guilty in New York federal court Monday.

Christoph Reist and Stephan Fellmann were charged in 2012 with conspiring to help at least 180 U.S. taxpayers maintain undeclared accounts at Zuercher Kantonalbank, Switzerland’s largest publicly-owned regional bank. ZKB is one of 14 Swiss banks that has been under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for helping Americans evade taxes. Some of those banks, like Credit Suisse Group AG, resolved those cases.

A third man named in the 2012 case, U.S. citizen Otto Huppi, didn’t appear in court Monday. The status of his case was unclear. Both Reist, 58, and Fellmann, 52, were allowed to remain free on $150,000 bond. Reist’s lawyer Sean Casey, and Jim Walden, a lawyer for Fellmann, declined comment on the plea.

The three men were accused of opening and managing accounts for U.S. taxpayers, using code names such as "Raincity" and "Kakeycat," according to a 2012 statement from the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. Huppi also traveled to the U.S. to meet with clients at a Newark, New Jersey, hotel to set up the undeclared accounts in Switzerland, the U.S. said. Fellmann allegedly told U.S. clients that ZKB was less vulnerable to U.S. legal pressure because it didn’t have offices in the country.

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